Chelsea wins area title for second straight year
Published 9:22 am Monday, February 15, 2016
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
OXFORD – For the first time in school history, the boys from Chelsea have won back-to-back basketball area tournaments. The Hornets, playing 6A Area 10 regular-season winner Oxford in the finals of the area tournament on Feb. 12, came back from a 31-23 halftime deficit to beat the Yellow Jackets in a thriller, 58-56.
Chelsea beat Pell City for the third time this season in the first round of the area tournament by 19 points to ensure a spot in the finals. Oxford was in the finals by default because 6A Area 10 only has three teams, and Chelsea had dropped both regular season games to the Yellow Jackets by an average of 12 points each time.
Early in the area championship game, it seemed as if Oxford was going to sweep its series with Chelsea, as the Yellow Jackets held a 31-23 lead at the half. In the last two quarters, however, Chelsea outscored Oxford 35-25 to claim the tight, two-point win. After clawing back to tie the game at 42 apiece entering the fourth quarter, Chelsea was down one point, 56-55, with less than a minute to play in the fourth. Oxford’s Jalen Moore missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Hornets’ one more chance to win the game.
The Hornets turned to junior guard Joseph Lanzi in the games waning moments, who hit a shot with under 10 seconds to go and drew a foul. After hitting his foul shot, Chelsea was up 58-56. Moore took the games’ final shot, but Josh Hanna got a piece of the shot, denying Moore’s shot and giving Chelsea the win.
Earlier in the year, Chelsea head coach Nicholas Baumbaugh had expressed how one of his main goals for this Hornet’s team was for them to become the first team in Chelsea history to win back-to-back area titles. And, for a while this year, that goal did not seem feasible. The Hornets struggled at times this season, and at one point lost 10 out of 11 games this year. They couldn’t seem to get over the hump and win tight games for a large chunk of the year. However, Chelsea has now won six of its last seven, and three of those six wins have come by less than six points.
Lanzi had 15 points to lead Chelsea while Matt Marquet had 14 as well. Chelsea advanced to 12-18 with the win.
With the win, Chelsea earned the right to host the sub-regional round, and the Hornets will play Fort Payne in the 6A sub-regional round on Tuesday.